Inspired to Teach

It’s amazing how three and a half weeks can really affect and change you.

For the past three and a half weeks, I have had the honor and privilege of being Miss Erin to thirty wonderful high school students. Each day was an adventure, filled with many surprises, frustrating moments, laughs, and smiles, but most importantly, filled with countless gratifying moments when I realized just how much I loved being a teacher.

Each day the office staff gave the teachers a little treat with inspirational or uplifting quotes. “You’re the STAR of our school!” was written on a bag of Starbursts. “Best teacher BAR none!” was on a bag of mini chocolate bars. Although each message was praising and inspiring the teachers, I ran across a quote this week by Sean Junkins that I believe is much more fitting: “So often you find that the students you’re trying to inspire are the ones that end up inspiring you.”

Inspired doesn’t even begin to describe how this experience has made me feel. The list could go on: encouraged, motivated, passionate, dedicated, driven. Each day we had the kids write in their journals about a topic and one day the prompt was to write about their favorite teacher. There were a handful of kids who wrote about Miss Mallory and me. Now, I’m sure some just wrote about us because they knew we were going to be reading them, but reading the kind words they wrote about us or their other teachers erin1was really touching. It’s incredible the impact a teacher can have on his/her students. Unfortunately, this impact can be good or bad. During summer school, the students have shared stories about how they have had many teachers that were discouraging and treated them differently because of their culture and the language they speak at home. I, too, have had a few not-so-great teachers in my own schooling. However, these stories and personal experiences just inspire and push me to be an educator that can be that positive supporter for children, because fortunately, I have had a few of these teachers to model after. I’ve had a few teachers who really went above and beyond their teaching responsibilities and were great mentors to me. Today, I’ve been able to keep in contact with many of them and I am lucky to be able to call them friends.

Now I know I still want to pursue a career as a school counselor, but I feel as if doors have been opened for me because of this teaching experience. I’ve been tossing around the idea of eventually getting my PhD in Education to teach at the college level, but this idea has become more of a goal now. Additionally, in the meantime, I would love to work or volunteer at an after-school program or possibly teach at a summer school. I don’t think I could teach full-time in the public schools, being restricted by state standards and focused around testing, but educating youth, especially those “at-risk,” would be an absolute joy, where I know I would leave each day more inspired by my students.

Erin O’Connor ’15